The Importance of Vendor Relationships

Property managers are constantly pulled in three different directions, attending to the needs of tenants, owners, and the property itself.  Good vendor relationships are vital in holding it all together.  One way of keeping the right mental focus is recognizing that your central role is maximizing the value of the real estate asset.  With that in mind, except for keeping the building leased, most attention goes to property maintenance.

That alone is a big task, involving plumbers, electricians, roofers, painters, landscapers, janitorial service, and so on.  It’s not that unusual for large properties to have two- or even three-dozen approved vendors, many of which are on call 24 hours a day.  It’s simply not possible to keep that coordinated and going smoothly without solid relationships with all your key vendors.

Benefits of Vendor Relationships

Most properties have full- or part-time janitorial and handyman staff on-site, but they shouldn’t be spread too thin and often lack the skills necessary for non-routine tasks.  Vendors (service providers) fill those needs with their own experience, specialized skills, and required licensing.  By qualifying and selecting key vendors you won’t be scrambling for each and every problem, and by maintaining good working relationships you’ll get better results with less time and effort.

  • With a clear line of authority and responsibility assigned, you won’t have to deal with routine problems nor special situations that have low-cost remedies.
  • Summaries and reports can be done for you by each service provider, including insurance paperwork.
  • With clear and open communications things get done with fewer phone calls and emails, and with fewer mis-communications.
  • With an approved vendor list of service providers you trust you can delegate more decisions to on-site staff.

A good long-term working relationship with a vendor often means preferential treatment for your properties, and almost always means they’ll stick with you so you won’t need to compare new service providers and qualify another vendor all over again.

Plumbing Service Providers

As an example, when your in-house staff can’t solve a plumbing problem with a plunger, a visual inspection for a leak, or a good once-over on a water heater then you’ll need a licensed plumbing contractor.  It’s generally considered best to go with a full-service plumbing company rather than deal with, say, a drain cleaner and a water heater guy and a plumber.  You’ll be dealing with fewer vendors, and there won’t be any delays if the problem wasn’t what you thought it was.

As with other types of vendors, the contractor you choose should cover all levels of service.  With contracts in place and a good working relationship you can leave the logistics up to them.

  • preventive maintenance such as pro-active sewer and drain cleaning, scheduled pressure testing for leaks, and annual hot water heater maintenance
  • emergency services for backed up drains and sewers, leaks, hot water heaters, and boilers
  • plumbing inspections and services for tenant changeover, tenant improvements, remodeling, and code upgrades

Frequently on site, they can be an extra set of eyes and ears that go a long way in reducing tenant complaints and failed inspections, not to mention mold and water damage.

Building Open Communications and Trust

Building good vendor relationships begins with selection and hiring, and never really ends. But it also goes a long way in making a property manager’s job more satisfying.  Of course you’ll want to verify skills, licenses, and references and consider their payment terms and guarantees.  But it’s also OK to include your impression of their mindset and communication skills in your judgment. Cultivating trust and good communications is a lot of work, so it’s also a good idea to lean towards companies that can provide the broadest range of services in order to minimize the number of vendors you’ll be dealing with.

Your service providers are subject to the Fair Housing Act for residential properties, and whether residential or commercial you’re ultimately responsible for tenant complaints.  So clear away distractions and listen carefully to what they report regarding your property and tenants.  That way you’ll not only build stronger vendor relationships, you’ll get the most benefit from their experience and expertise.  And being a good client encourages them to please you.  They’ll be much more inclined to fully live up to your standards and expectations.  With mutual respect and consideration you’ll be more confident in their estimates and recommendations.  And when you accept the occasional mistake you’re encouraging them to tell you the real story, not what they think you want to hear.

ASAP Drain Guys & Plumbing

We’re a fully licensed and insured full-service plumbing company, experienced in single and multi-family residential as well as commercial properties for HOAs, landlords, and property managers.  With drain technicians, apprentice, journeyman, and master plumbers we can match the licensing requirements for sewer, septic, and gas lines while keeping our services economical.  Approved by The Compliance Depot and a member of the Southern California Rental Housing Association (SCRHA), our 24/7 services include high-performance hydro jetting and in-pipe video camera inspection.